NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Not every workplace is lucky enough to have someone work in the same office for over 40 years.
The Nacogdoches County Courthouse, specifically the County Attorney office, has had the privilege of working with Billie Tillis, who retires on Thursday.
Tillis calls herself a secretary, but this dedicated woman will be missed by co-workers and the public for so many more talents.
Billie Tillis will retire six weeks shy of 42 years as secretary for the Nacogdoches County Attorney's office. She's now the longest tenured employee of Nacogdoches County.
"It is most inconceivable when you think that when Billie started working here in this office, Richard Nixon was president," said Stephanie Stephens, an assistant county attorney. "That's how long she's been here. It's also inconceivable how we're going to replace her."
"Almost all of us know that the gateway to the courthouse goes through Billie Tillis," said County Attorney John Fleming. "That's kinda the reality of it."
Almost literally. Tillis' office sets between two doors. People pass through her space all day. She likes it that way.
"I think what I regret most is all of our doors are now closed," Tillis said. "We used to have them, you remember Donna, when they were open and you could hear the typewriters going and people laughing and talking. It felt a little more like family."
Tillis has served three county attorneys. The first, Bryan Holt Davis gave her freedom to quickly become the go-to person. Subsequent bosses never even thought of taking office without Tillis' leadership.
There's no question. Tillis runs a tight ship.
"The work," Tillis said. "I love being busy."
There's also a nurturing side. Assistant County Attorney Paige Patillo was encouraged through single life, marriage, and motherhood.
"She is a friend. She's been a mother," Patillo said. "She's been a trusted confidant."
Tillis also has a commitment to the general public. Her roots go back to the Hot Check Division. Merchants should be saying thank you.
"We are talking about hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars that have been returned to victims of a theft," Fleming said.
At the same time Tillis has empathy for many offenders, but double checks the criminal history of each defendant prior to a court date.
"So even though this is misdemeanor court she still has been very instrumental in helping catch felons," Patillo said.
A Proclamation read Tuesday in commissioner's court formally recognizes Tillis' work ethic. She's grateful, but as soon as the recognition was over Tillis was back at her desk. She says she'll be working right up to 5 p.m. Thursday. Most guess she'll be staying later than that.
Tillis will be honored with a retirement reception on Friday from two to four in the County Attorney's office.
Tillis expects retirement won't come easy, but she plans to stay busy volunteering for her church.